Watched a documentary today regarding a rapist/home invader who plied his trade among the affluent neighborhoods around Nashville, TN for over a decade. He always struck on rainy nights, and his victims were of various diverse ages and appearances. Unlike most serial rapists/killers he did not limit his depredations to “look-alikes”, but females from the age of sixteen to sixty and of every possible different look. Most, if not all, of the victims had “security alarms” for their homes. That glossed-over fact was very nearly ignored by the documentary, and only a fleeting side shot of the alarm company manager at the company console was given among interviews with everyone else in the story.
The criminal escaped detection for a decade, and at least thirteen home invasions and vicious rapes.
Nobody’s security alarm activated on any of the home invasions.
The perp came from the woods, invaded the home, brutalized the women and went back into the woods.
Every time, without fail, he attacked on a rainy night.
The police finally got the perp after years of hard work on their part and a very clever DA. By DNA evidence they convicted him on the first two of thirteen cases. The DA is going to try him on every case, so every victim can have personal vindication of some sort.
But that is just the skeleton view of why I’m posting this.
Most homes had a security alarm, none of which activated.
It was always on a dark rainy night.
How did he obtain entrance to the home? That question was never asked nor mentioned. I have my own ideas, and some involves him having been an employee of the alarm company.
He had also been a rent-a-cop but got fired from that job for having an affair with a co-worker.
So here’s the short-version message for today, regarding home security (Other locations are a different discussion):
1. Security involves “layers” of security, not just an alarm system. A good alarm system is essential to your “layers” of security, but it is not the whole tamale. First of all, even if it is activated by someone bumping a door lock, or breaking a window, the “lead time” for the alarm to activate is most of a minute, maybe more. After the lead time, there is an additional time lapse for you to hear the alarm and wake up. There is also an unknown lead time for the monitoring service to react to the alarm, waste time calling you, and then waste more time calling law enforcement. These wasted minutes take forever when someone has invaded your home.
2. “Layers of security” for “at home” consideration involve several measures, just a few of which I’ll mention on this post.
a. Make it difficult for perps to approach your home without being seen. Motion-activated lights, trimmed bushes, alarm-company signs, motion-activated security cameras,
b. Make it difficult for perps to enter your home. Closed, locked, curtained windows, doors locked/blocked, security film on any glass accessible from outside and large enough for a person to crawl through. Door locks that cannot be “bumped” by anyone with a blank key. An open/unlocked door at anytime of the day or night is easy access for strangers.
c. If a perp has to make a lot of noise (trying to break glass, or bashing on doors to gain entry) it will wake you up even if the perp gets discouraged and runs away. At the point you wake up to a commotion at your doors or windows, you activate your own final levels of personal security. You don’t run headlong into the noise demanding; “Who’s There!”
So what might your final layers of personal security be?
d. You probably have a house phone or a cell phone by your bedside. Program the “9” to automatically dial “9-1-1” when pressed and held. Even if you cannot talk, any progressive PD Dispatch already has your address. If the dispatcher is actually a professional (instead of some gabby fool who thinks all the questions on the contact form is the mission, instead of getting the police headed to your location) there will be an on-duty officer headed your way immediately. Lights and siren probably. That should scare the perp away as he hears the siren getting closer.
e. You probably have a set of car keys which activates your vehicles’ door locks. It also has a “panic-button”, so press it and get your car alarm screaming.
f. You probably have doors on your bedroom. If that’s where you are when the commotion begins, lock them. If that isn’t where you are, then head for the nearest room that does have locks, and hole-up until the police arrive. If the perp starts breaking down your locked inside door before the police arrive, you still have a couple of final options.
f.1: Pepper-spray or tazer-type hand-held battery-powered zappers. Properly applied they are quite effective if the pepper gets into the perps eyes/nose/mouth. The battery-powered zapper is quite effective if you have the strength to actually make it contact the perps body. Unless you are very physical, this might be a problem with a strong attacker.
f.2: There is an old saying goes something like; “God made man, Sam Colt made them all equal”. At least it does in the states that allow honest citizens to defend themselves. The revolver, in all it’s iterations, is a very dependable and effective weapon for personal protection. For many folks it is the final layer of personal security. If you prefer an auto-loading pistol make sure you can easily activate all the functions including the slide and any external safeties. As long as you purchase a quality firearm and take good care of it, it will serve you well. As for what caliber you should buy for your defense, the answer is a simple one: Whatever caliber you can accurately and comfortably shoot. If you choose too-heavy a caliber that becomes uncomfortable for practice, then it will be uncomfortable when you actually need it. Go to a reputable firearms dealer who has an indoor range and he will allow you to test- fire several calibers and brands to see what fits you best. After the purchase, keep it clean, keep it secure and practice with it regularly. A good “concealed carry” class will give you a lot of information, familiarity with your state laws, and a comfortable association with your revolver after the class firearms target qualification.
f.3: If you choose to have a firearm for your final layer of security, be sure to keep it away from children and other unauthorized persons.
It would still be interesting to know how the Tennessee perp actually gained access to the victim’s homes. The program did not even mention that part. It was mentioned that he did “recon” the homes for some time before he broke in. Obviously to recon the victim’s daily patterns and see which rooms were occupied at various times. The “last light out” usually being the bedroom. “But”: Did he disable the alarm system? Did he simply locate an unlocked door or window? Did he break out a window, or “bump” the lock on the door? (see http://consumer.schlage.com/Pages/home.aspx for bump-proof locks, or just search the term for other makes). Whatever the method of entry, all victims said they did not detect his invasion until he was standing over them. They had no idea their home had been invaded until the perp had his hands on them.
And that, dear friends, is the entire reason for having layers of security. Each layer provides either physical safety or a time-buffer to become aware of a threat. If the first layer fails, the next becomes active. If the second one fails, the third becomes important. And so-on.
Hoping you never become a victim of personal violence.
Hoping you never have to engage your final personal level of security.
But, if you do, here’s hoping you hit what you aim for.
Very Best Regards, TheOldMan